Agencies Continue to Plod Away at Data Center Consolidation, Providing Opportunities for Contractors

Published: November 06, 2013

Data Center

Nearly four years after the launch of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), agencies have closed 946 data centers. However, clear results are hard to measure and much work still remains according to Deltek’s most recent report, Federal Update: Cloud, Data Center, Big Data and Mobility, 2013-2018.

Announced in February 2010, the FDCCI intended to promote the use of Green IT by lowering the energy and real estate footprint of government data centers; reduce the cost of data center hardware, software, and operations; shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms; and increase the overall IT security posture of the government.

Since then, an iterative inventorying process has uncovered over 7,000 data centers to date, due to several changes in the parameters used to define a data center.  Nevertheless, agencies are making headway closing data centers and optimizing those that remain. 

Agencies are employing technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and solutions to optimize energy efficiency.  Virtualization is the cornerstone technology being used by federal agencies to consolidate data centers, many of which significantly under-utilized resources.  By employing virtualization, agencies can significantly lower their number of servers, power consumption, and maintenance costs.  Some agencies who have implemented server virtualization have been able to reduce their number of servers by as much as 90%.

Investments are paying off in the form of freed up floor space, savings on energy expenses, savings from more efficient O&M, improved visibility into the IT infrastructure, and better utilization of IT staff.  However, challenges to continued progress remain in the form of budget, technology and culture.  Agencies are finding it difficult to come up with funds for investment even if a ROI is expected in three years or less.  Technical hurdles include an overabundance of legacy applications and databases that don't support virtualization.  Many agencies claim that cultural issues are one of their biggest challenges to data center consolidation/optimization.  When resources are freed up or data centers closed, employees may be forced to move or the nature of their positions may change.

Agencies are using a variety of contracting strategies and vehicles to accomplish data center consolidation and optimization: 

  • GWACs
  • Agency-specific multiple award contracts
  • Individual procurements
  • GSA Schedule 70 contracts
  • ESPCs, especially for work related to energy efficiency for the building infrastructure housing the data center

Although they may take added digging to uncover, opportunities remain for contractors in the area of data center consolidation and optimization.  To unearth opportunities, contractors should focus their business development efforts on existing customers.  By working with existing clients, contractors have a view into their agency clients’ needs, existing IT infrastructure and available procurement avenues.  In most cases, agencies are purchasing products and services related to data center consolidation/optimization incrementally, regardless of the contract vehicle they ultimately use to fulfill the requirement.  Most data center requirements that are put out for bid are not grand scale total optimization/consolidation for an entire facility or sub-agency.  Instead they are for specific components of a consolidation effort, i.e. planning, moving a specific function to the cloud, application mapping, virtualization of a subset of servers, implementing virtual desktop infrastructure for an office, etc.

For more information on the state of federal data center consolidation, cloud computing, big data and mobility, see Deltek’s report, Federal Update: Cloud, Data Center, Big Data and Mobility, 2013-2018.